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India-South Africa Match Fixing in 2000: How Indian Bookie demolish career of players

The case of match-fixing could have not been exposed if a police inspector had not paid attention to a call recording. There are many popular cricketers of that time who were involved in that case but not all of them found guilty at the end of the investigation.

Cricket in India is like festival and cricketers are like god to the fans. The incident of match-fixing which came in public makes the fans furious and it is obviously going to affect the popularity of the game in India. Also, the career of many players get affected and had not played any match after that incident even after the upliftment of all allegations.

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It is a case of April 2000 when South Africa was playing against India and Sourav Ganguly was captain of team India because Sachin Tendulkar had just step down from captaincy. Hansie Cronje was captain of South Africa.

On 7 April 2000, a police inspector of Delhi police crime branch Ishwar Singh was listening to a call recording and he came to know later about the match-fixing scandal. Actually, Delhi police were tapping phone calls of gangsters to find some clue against them.

During listening phone calls he(Ishwar Singh) finds a call in which a conversation was going about a cricket match details like the playing eleven, who will bat first, and other details. In the call recording, two persons are talking in which one was Sanjay Chawla(a representative of Indian betting syndicate).

After investigating more, another 14 call records are found which confirms the match-fixing scandal in India. Further investigating call records it was found that the second man talking in that recording is Hansie Cronje, captain of South Africa Cricket team. Three other players, Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje, and Pieter Strydom were also implicated after investigation. The case was then handed over to CBI for further investigation because it is obvious match-fixing cannot possible without the involvement of Indian player.

On 8 April 2000, South Africa cricket board was also informed about the match-fixing during India series but they denied. Hansie Cronje said, “the allegations are completely without substance”. However, on 11 April Hansie Cronje was sacked as a captain after confessing that he had not been entirely honest.

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On 7 June, the king commission(made for investigating match-fixing incident) began and after that Gibbs revealed that Cronje had offered him $$15,000 to score less than 20 runs in the 5th ODI at Nagpur. He also said that another offer of $15,000 offered to Henry Williams to concede more than 50 runs in that match. Gibbs scored 74 runs and Williams get injured in his second over and could not complete his second over. So none of them received offer money.

Another name came in light in the match-fixing probe is MK Gupta(another representative of match-fixing syndicate)and he was also interrogated about the fixing case. He reveals the name of four Indian players Mohammad Azharuddin, Ajay Sharma, Ajay Jadeja, Nayan Mongia and he also reveals the name of players of other countries too.

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These players are dropped from the team for further matches until the investigation complete. Due to the exclusion from the team some new players(Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, and a few others) get the chance to represent India. The new team India goes for the champions trophy with captain Sourav Ganguly and played good cricket to reach the final but unluckily could not manage to win the championship.

Before the champions trophy, every Indian cricket fan was very disappointed and furious due to that match-fixing allegations and also fans were performing strikes against the players who were involved in that case. But the performance of India in champions trophy uplifted the belief of fans on the team and once again cricket in India retain its position.

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Later Hansie Cronje reveals that Mohammad Azharuddin introduces him to MK Gupta and Sanjay Chawla. He also said that they used to get some minor information about the match that he thought could not affect the match results. After investigation, BCCI imposes a life ban on Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma, 5 years ban on Ajay Jadeja and Nayan Mongia found not guilty. But later Mohammad Azharuddin gets free from all allegations by Court due to the absence of solid proof against him.

In August, Gibbs and Williams suspended from international cricket and fined RS60,000 and RS10,000 resp.  However, Strydom did not get any punishment.

In October, Cronje was found guilty and banned from playing or coaching for a lifetime. He challenged his life ban but his application was dismissed.

It was the first incident of match-fixing in India which occurred in the year 2000 in India vs South Africa series and the case was closed in the year 2013 after upliftment of life ban from Mohammad Azharuddin.

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During that case, many other players came under the inquiry by their respective board and many series were investigated.

In 2004, New Zealand’s captain Stephen Fleming claims he was offered  $370,000 by an Indian sports promoter during the 1999 World Cup to join a match-fixing syndicate.

Pakistan former captain Saleem Malik had also banned by the Pakistan cricket board but the ban was uplifted in the year 2008.

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